My father passed away last month. I am dedicating this talk to his memory.
He was born in the early 1920s. The people born in this time suffered from the great depression, a serious economic slump that left 30% of the population without jobs, and found many going hungry for lack of food. Then World War II came along. This was the only time in this country's history that its territory was invaded and attacked from outside. The Japanese fought very hard and many suffered from the war. My father was on a ship that survived 20 attacks by Japanese kamikaze suicide pilots.
When the war ended, Americans settled down in peace to raise families, and the baby boom, a large number of postwar children were born. I am part of this generation. The parents wanted to make sure that their children did not undergo the suffering that they had to endure. I grew up, like most of the people my age with plenty of food, cookies, candy, and cakes; warm clothing and warm schools and houses, and lots of toys and leisure time to play sports and games or to watch television and read. It was a kind of paradise compared to what our parents had endured.
When someone of my generation complained, perhaps that a neighbor had a backyard swimming pool, while we did not, we were treated to a lecture on how easy we had things compared to the experiences of our parents. They would say, “You do not know how easy you have it.”
In this spirit I am offering a talk on what an easy life we have compared to the patriarch Elder Master Hsu Yun.
Here are a few incidents from his life.
When he was 56, he fell into a river and was carried along by the current, for an entire day and night. When he was rescued, blood poured out of every orifice. He was revived and sent to Gaomin Monastery, where he was beaten for refusing an administrative post. Despite these difficulties, he fully participated in a twelve week chan session. He became enlightened during this session, but had to endure many more difficulties during the rest of his life.
When he was 66, he traveled on a boat on which an epidemic broke out. He was quarantined and became severely ill. He was given only a small bowl of rice and two uncooked carrots to eat each day. He became so ill that he could not eat. He was move to a house and given poison so that he could quickly be prepared for dissection. He lay on the ground and could not get up or see even with his eyes wide open . When he was helped to his feet, he saw that the ground under him was covered with blood. He managed to survive and was finally released.
When he was 68, he entered samadhi in Thailand for nine days. After this his legs became numb, then his whole body was paralyzed. He had to be fed by other. He entered a coma. Mahakasyapa appeared in a dream and told him how to cure himself. He was severely ill for 20 days, but finally recovered.
When he was 77, he traveled to Singapore. Here he was arrested and accused of being a left-winger. He was tied and beaten. Every day he was left out in the sun and beaten if he moved. He was not allowed food or drink or even to relieve himself. This went on from 6 am to 8 pm. Finally some disciples arranged for his freedom.
By comparison, we have a pretty easy life here at CTTB. In this paradise we have a chance to cut off desire and love.